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David Hawkes papers

Identifier: HK CVU 0011/PER/Dhawkes

Consists of donated materials chiefly prepared and collected by David Hawkes on Chinese literature and the study of religion. Also covers biographical materials on David Hawkes. Material types include manuscripts, correspondence, notes, books, catalogues, off-prints, contracts, invoices, photographs, videos, transcripts and clippings, etc.


  • 1948-2009, undated


Language of Materials

Chiefly in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Access to materials is restricted by legal requirements, written agreements with the donor(s) and policies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong Library. Users are required to sign an application form to use the collection. Records containing personal data which might constitute intrusion of privacy are not available for access.

Accessibility levels of this fonds:
 1 = Totally open to public on the online archive; physically available upon request made to CUHK Library or Prof. John Minford
 2 = Only available on the online archive
 3 = Only a few pages available on the archive as a preview; physically available upon request made to CUHK Library or Prof. John Minford
 4 = Only a few pages available on the archive as a preview; NOT physically available
 5 = Only physically available upon request made to CUHK Library or Prof. John Minford; listed on the archive
 6 = Only listed on the archive as sealed items

 Remark: We're still working on the online archive and it will be released for access once ready.

We also made our best effort to protect personal data and copyrighted materials during archival descriptive process by marking:
 1) Note 1: to indicate materials contain personal data or sensitive information; access restricted
 2) Note 2: to indicate copyright restrictions may apply

If you have any questions or concerns on personal data and copyrighted materials of this collection, please email us and we ensure that we would respond to your written request accordingly within a reasonable time period.

Conditions Governing Use

Users are responsible to abide by the law of copyright and privacy. The copyright on some materials in the collection may be held by the creators, donors or any other persons. Users must obtain written permissions from the copyright holder(s) and the Librarian prior to publishing any materials in this collection.

Photocopying requests must be made to CUHK Library staff in writing for approval by the Librarian. It must be noted that provision of photocopies does not constitute permission to reproduce, publish, or circulate these materials in any formats.

Archival records may contain materials with personal, sensitive or confidential information that is protected under privacy law. Users must note that the disclosure or use of certain information pertaining to identifiable individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals or concerned parties may have legal ramifications for which The Chinese University of Hong Kong assumes no responsibility.


6.00 linear feet

Biographical / Historical

David Hawkes (1923/07/06 - 2009/07/31), scholar and translator of Chinese literature, grew up in London East. He attended Christ Church, Oxford, in 1942, to study the classics. In 1943, he was recruited by the military to learn Japanese and became instructor of the language to code-breakers at the Bedford Inter-Services Intelligence Centre. He returned to University of Oxford in 1945 and transferred to the study of Chinese classics under Ernest Richard Hughes (1883 – 1956). In 1948, he was accepted as a graduate student of Peking University with the aid of William Empson (1906 – 1984).

On May 5, 1950, he married Jean in Beijing; and the couple returned to England in 1951.

Hawkes returned to Oxford as a lecturer in Chinese under Homer H. Dubs (1892-1969) and completed his doctoral dissertation on “Chu ci”(楚辭)in 1956. The dissertation was entitled “The problem of date and authorship in Ch’u Tz’u” and contained a complete translation of the “Chu ci” in English. The translation was published in 1959 under the title “Ch’u Tz’u: the Songs of the South.

Hawkes became Professor of Chinese in 1959 and resigned from the chair in 1971 in order to devote full time with the translation of “Hong lou meng”(紅樓夢)into English. He was a research fellow of All Souls College, Oxford from 1973 until his retirement in 1983 and then became an Emeritus Fellow of the college. Translation of the first 80 chapters of “Hong lou meng” was published in 3 volumes (in 1973, 1977, and 1980) under the title “The Story of the Stone.” John Minford, Hawkes’s former student and son-in-law, completed the project with the translation of the remaining 40 chapters.

On retirement, the Hawkes couple moved to Llanddewi Brefi, Wales in 1984 and his book collection was donated to the National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth. During his stay in Wales, he revised his “Chu ci” translation for Penguin Classics (published in 1985 with a revised introduction), studied the Welsh language and the history of religion (on which a series of essays were written and published privately in 2004 under title “Letters from a Godless Grandfather”.)

The couples returned to Oxford in 2000 and Hawkes’s translation of an early Yuan zaju(元雜劇)“Dongting Hu Liu Yi chuan shu”(洞庭湖柳毅傳書)was published in 2003 under title: “Liu Yi and the Dragon Princess”. He also became interested in the poems of Liu Hongbin(劉洪彬).

Besides the books mentioned above, Hawkes’s other publications includes “Chinese: classical, modern, and humane” (1961), “A little primer of Tu Fu” (1967), and “Classical, modern and humane” (1989), etc.

Gittings, John. “David Hawkes: Scholar Who Led the Way in Chinese Studies and Translated The Story of The Stone.” The Guardian, 25 August 2009. (28 August 2013).

Liu, Tao Tao. “Introduction.” In Style, wit and word-play. ed. Tao Tao Liu, Laurence K.P. Wong, and Chan Sin-wai, [ix]-xvi. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012.

Minford, John. “A tribute to Brother Stone.” In Style, wit and word-play. ed. Tao Tao Liu, Laurence K.P. Wong, and Chan Sin-wai, [1]-14. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012.


Arranged into 5 series.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Originals of some materials are not available due to physical conditions or the need of special equipment. Copies are provided if available.


Donated by John Minford


David Hawkes papers
Special Collections (Archives)
Description rules
Language of description
In English or Chinese

Revision Statements

  • 2017-11-29: 2nd batch was arranged and descirbed.

Repository Details

Part of the CUHK Library Archival Collections Repository

Special Collections Reading Room
3/F, University Library
The Chinese University of Hong Kong